Twitter rolls out age verification for “adult” brands

coors age verification

Mentioned by Techcrunch this week, Twitter and Buddy Media have partnered to develop an age verification tool that will allow brands to screen out users that are too young. For instance, the first time that a user under the age of twenty-one attempts to follow the Coors Light Twitter page, they will be send a direct message through Twitter with a link to an age verification page. Once the user enters the day, month and year of their birthday as well as agree to another privacy policy, they will be able to follow the brand if they are over the age limit. After the age is submitted, Twitter will be able to use that for future verification as well. In other words, the user won’t be promoted with the same age verification process over and over each time they want to follow an “adult” brand.

Buddy Media Age VerificationIf a Twitter user makes a mistake on the entry form and sets the year under the age limit, they won’t be able to correct the mistake right away. According to Twitter, the user is barred from altering their age for an “undisclosed amount of time.” According to Twitter’s head of product marking Guy Yalif, he stated “We are trusting users to input their valid birth date. We have no plans to self identify their valid birthdate or cross reference this with third-party data.”

Similar to age gates on video game trailers, there’s nothing stopping a user from lying about their age in order to follow a Twitter page meant for an adult audience. It’s unlikely that age gates are effective in detouring younger users, but brands like alcohol companies are covered legally since the user agrees to the privacy policy that stipulates the age entered into the age gate is completely accurate. This also doesn’t effect the existing followers of adult brands either. People that are already followers don’t have to go through the age verification process.

Facebook age limitsAlternatively, Facebook is more stringent with underage users as the site requires an age to be entered when setting up a profile. This allows Facebook to filter advertisements of adult products from begin displayed to minors. In addition, Facebook page admins can set an age restriction. Specific to alcohol companies, page admins can categorize the page as “alcohol-related” in order to weed out users according to the drinking age limits in each country. For instance, if a person over twenty-one was a fan of Heineken on Facebook, friends of that person that are under the drinking age won’t be able to see that relationship.

Buddy Media has been testing the new age verification tool with alcohol brands such as Brown Forman’s Jack Daniels and Jim Beam’s Skinny Girl as well as MillerCoors’ Coors Light and Miller Lite. However, the tool is now available to the public and other brands can use it to block access. In addition to alcohol companies, the pornography industry, gambling organizations and pharmaceutical companies could also start using the age verification tool to protect themselves legally while increasing their advertising budget on Twitter.